Maine’s Franco-American history is often intertwined with the state’s Native American populations.

In a new book, “Unsettled Past-Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians,” York writer and former state legislator Neil Rolde describes episodes where the French and the Indian history came together. It’s a modern history that delves into deeper issues, especially the complicated Land Claims Act and the current relationship between the tribes and the state.

Three tribal nations, the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Maliseet, were involved in the complex landmark case called the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement.

A Passamaquoddy leader, Donald Soctomah, said Rolde’s book is especially important because it explains in uncomplicated language how the Indian Land Claims Act came about. More important, Rolde also describes how the landmark decision continues to be misunderstood.

“When writing the book, Neil looked at all the different levels of the Indian issues. He addresses concerns the Indians have because he was serving in the Maine Legislature and working in state government when many of the Claims Act issues were discussed,” said Soctomah, who is Tribal Historic Preservation director in Indian Township, where he lives. Soctomah recently completed a term as the official Indian representative to the Maine Legislature.

Soctomah even suggests that Rolde’s book should be required reading in every Maine history class.

“He writes honestly about some of the political goings-on that people did not see during the 1970s settlement negotiations,” Soctomah said. “I don’t believe any other book has been written with such depth about the settlement.”

It also clears up certain misconceptions, he said. For example, the book explains that it was the federal government, not the state, that paid the tribes $81.5 million in the settlement. Another  misconception regards Maine’s support of the tribes since 1820, when statehood was approved.

“This is an unfortunate misconception,” Soctomah said. “Timber harvested on tribal land has been sold. As a result, money from timber sales was put back into the community to support the tribes.”

“Unsettled Past-Uncertain Future” notes how even after brouhaha over the Indian Land Claims Settlement eventually simmered down, the tribal nations’ relationship with the state was strained again during the November 2003 state referendum when a gambling casino largely managed by the Indians was decidedly rejected by Maine voters.

Rolde dedicates one chapter to the dicey relationship Indians had with European settlers, including the French.

“It seems a leap of faith to believe that for the first three-quarters of the seventeenth century, (Maine’s) Indians and transplanted Europeans lived together peacefully,” he writes.

Often, conflagrations between the British against the French and Indians were fanned by religion. This ill will occurred because a majority of the Maine’s Indians were converted by French missionaries to Roman Catholicism and were, therefore, viewed as enemies of the Church of England.

Excerpts from the French Jesuit multi-volume history, “The Jesuit Relations,” are referred to when describing the close relationship between missionaries and tribes, like the Abenaki. A reproduction of an old graphic depicting the British assassination of the French Jesuit Father Rale at Norridgewock on Aug. 12, 1864, is included.

Notwithstanding politics and historic turns of events, Soctomah says the Passamaquoddy nation continues to support their culture.

In fact, he is proud to say, “We are still here. We still have our own culture.  We still have our own language,” he says.

“Unsettled Past-Uncertain Future” is published by Tilbury Press in Gardiner ME.